I have discovered hundreds of reasons why I never went to nursing school. I would have to say empathy is not my strong suit. It is a definite shortcoming, and I am not sure it is curable.
So far, my mother has rejected her diagnosis. She wants nothing to do with chemotherapy,she has stated she has no desire to live, that her time is up, what is the purpose of it all, and maybe she should just do herself in.
My brother and I have talked her into trying one cycle of chemo, and the nurse practitioner promised her she would feel better. She agreed. But, with my mother, what she says is not always what she means. One story for one person, another for someone else.
I have spent two weeks working on spreadsheets of medications and timetables of treatment, which seem to change daily. I have gotten hooks, and hung the sheets next to her cabinet where she keeps all her medications. I have written and printed them in 20 point font so that she can see them, as her eyesight is going.
She has yet to look at anything related to her course of therapy. I have made the directions so easy a 10 year old could follow it. Every time I hand anything to her, she says she just can’t do it, makes a noise of disgust, and chucks the papers on the floor.
I am trying to PP (practice patience), trying to give her space and time to wrap her head around this news. That said, I have limited time here, and I need her to get engaged in this so that I will feel comfortable leaving her alone. I need to feel sure she will take the medications at the proper times so as not to interrupt the treatment schedule.
On Monday, she expressed a desire to end her life in front of the oncology nurse. This has been a theme in her life since my father walked out 35 years ago. We, her children, are so used to her threatening to “drive into a bridge abutment, stick her head in the oven, just end it all”, that none of us take it seriously. I had planned to discuss her change in tone about suicide at her next General Practitioner appointment. Her comment on Monday saved me from having to have that awkward discussion. The oncologist called in a prescription for an antidepressant. She started on that today, which leads me to the bottom line of this post.
My mother is a hard core alcoholic. She has been for 50+ years. She drinks copious amounts of anything, mostly bourbon and wine, nightly. The hospitalization stopped that for a week and two days. Right before chemotherapy, she drank. She drank 3/4 of a bottle of wine. Pretty heavy coming off a week of iv’s, blood thinners, anemia, and partial kidney failure.
During our first chemotherapy session, I inquired about alcohol intake. The nurse looked at me like I had two heads, there was a long pause, and then she said, yes she can drink, but VERY LIMITED.
I have been shocked by my mother, she seemed to take it to heart. I have yet to see her have anything alcoholic.
Until last night. I was in my little room, reading a book, when I heard a glass being filled with ice. It was after 9 pm,unusual, unless she is drinking alcohol, she doesn’t drink anything after 9 pm. I made a mental note to check the wine bottle this morning when I got up.
I was elated to see I was wrong, no wine was gone from the open bottle in the refrigerator. Never happier to be wrong!
As I ran this morning it hit me..the bourbon. I forgot to check the bourbon bottle. Sure enough, it wasn’t facing the way I had left it when I was in that cabinet looking for something, and some was gone.
I now know what people mean when they use the term blinded by rage. I was. I immediately texted my sponsor with the question, should I confront her? Of course I didn’t wait the 30 seconds it took for her reply with the answer, NO. I asked her, AND SHE LIED!!!
Of course she lied, she is an alcoholic. I lied, you lied, we all lied. It is what we do.
Now I am once again sitting on a mountain of resentment.
All of the hours behind the wheel of a car, all of the planning, all of the scheduling, all of the emotional and physical energy we are ALL spending to keep this woman alive, and she is drinking. SHE IS FUCKING DRINKING WHILE TAKING CHEMOTHERAPY!!! WTF is the point?
Why have I put my life on hold, why is my brother working so hard to find her a place near him, why are we emailing, talking and texting constantly about this woman? Why is this our only topic of discussion, our sole focus of the energy of our lives right now?
I can make it impossible for her to drink for the rest of the time I am here.
I have taken away the Ambien and dispense one nightly so she won’t swallow the whole bottle.
I have added the antidepressant to her medication list with bold letters stating DO NOT DRINK WHILE ON THIS MEDICATION.
I have laid out the chemotherapy treatments on a daily calender, and spreadsheet. I have added them to a Google calendar and linked it to both my brothers as well.
I leave on August 30th. What happens then?
Why are we working so hard to save her, when she wants nothing to do with being saved?